One evening I was unexpectedly asked to play the piano at the end of the church service. I was young at the time and not used to playing with an organist. The pastor’s wife was at the organ on the opposite side of the church, and she held up three fingers signaling the song would be in three flats. I knew I couldn’t play the song in three flats, so I nodded to her to go ahead, that I couldn’t play it. I got the same signal again – three fingers that said, “we are playing this song in three flats.” Thinking she didn’t understand my message, I mouthed it to her again and motioned for her to go ahead. One last time, she sent me the same message, except this time she held up those three fingers with a sweeping motion that came to an abrupt halt in midair. It was as if she was yelling, “We ARE going to play this song in three flats; now get on with it!” So, what did I do? I played the song in three flats…because she told me to do it.
When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” (Genesis 17:1) I wonder if Abraham tried to explain to God that he couldn’t do that. I wonder if he panicked to think God really expected him to be perfect. What an impossible task he was asked to perform! After all, none of us can be perfect! Or can we?
Jesus tells us, “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) How can we possibly accomplish that? The simple answer is “by walking with God”. But before we explore that statement, we need to understand what God is really asking of us.
In the Amplified Bible, Genesis 17:1 looks like this: “I am the Almighty God; walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete)”. When describing Noah’s relationship with God, Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a just and righteous man, blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked [in habitual fellowship] with God.”
Perfection does not mean we are flawless, that we never make a mistake. These great men of God made mistakes, but they kept walking with God. They refused to allow a fall to stop them.
It is easy to look at the lives of people in the Bible and think they were so different from us. We put them on a pedestal and think we could never attain the level of spirituality they had, but God would never tell us to do it if we couldn’t. The obvious way to be blameless, wholehearted and complete, is to walk in habitual fellowship with Him because we can’t do it alone.
How much of our day is spent with not a thought of Him? Are we constantly aware of His presence with us? I don’t mean do we always feel His presence. I mean are we always aware of His presence? If you are walking with someone, you may not be constantly talking to them, but you are aware that you are not alone. The more closely we walk with Jesus, the more like Him we become, the more faith we have, the more power we have. But we cannot have it if we don’t consistently walk with Him.
Becoming righteous is not possible on our own, but we can accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us, then His righteousness is bestowed on us through our faith in Him. However, the choice whether or not we will be wholehearted in our pursuit of God is clearly up to us.
The disciples left everything to follow Jesus. They walked by His side every day for 3 ½ years. They listened to Him as He taught them how to live and how to give. After Jesus ascended to the Father He sent the Holy Spirit as He had promised. We need to be as wholehearted in following the leading of the Holy Spirit as the disciples were in following the physical footsteps of Jesus.
So, how do we walk with God? By applying His principles to every circumstance that arises. By keeping His commandments. By staying in constant communication with Him every day. We get up with Him in the morning. We talk with Him throughout the day. We listen to what He says through His Spirit and from His Word.
Let’s look at a few of Jesus’ precepts that He taught and lived. When we truly walk with Him, we will walk according to these principles.
Walk in Light. Those who truly want to walk with Jesus will welcome His light. Many prefer darkness because it hides their sins, but those who wholeheartedly want to follow Jesus are glad for the light. They know if we refuse to see our sins and confess them, we cannot have them removed, so we will fall over those obstacles in the darkness and be destroyed. Walking in the light will keep us on the path of life rather than destruction. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Light also removes the veil over our understanding and allows us to have insight into spiritual things. (See 1 Corinthians 2:9-16.) God’s light will let us see beyond this world’s wisdom into the glorious realm of the Kingdom of God.
Those who walk in light become light to others. Jesus instructed us to be careful not to hide the light we have, but to shine it into the darkness so others may see. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Walk in Truth. The nature of truth is to set us free from bondage. The lies Satan told in the Garden of Eden deceived Adam and Eve and brought them into bondage to sin. That is why Jesus came. He is the key that unlocks the trap and sets us free. He said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Although Jesus no longer walks on the earth in the flesh, His Spirit has come to teach us and show us the way – just as clearly as Jesus showed His disciples. He promised to send the Holy Spirit, and He did.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13) See how the Spirit of God comes alongside us to lead us just as Jesus did His disciples? Learning to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit enables us to walk in truth rather than falling for the lies of the enemy.
Walk in Wisdom. Wisdom is insight into the true nature of a thing. The Amplified Bible defines wisdom as the “comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God”. No one can have that insight without the help of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be taught or acquired any other way. It is received by living in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit day by day.
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17) This wisdom is not showy, but expends itself out of compassion for others.
Walk in Love. 1 Corinthians 13 is a sobering look at true love – God’s love. I say sobering, because I don’t always see a description of me there. As we read verses 4-7 from the Amplified Bible, let’s look at each phrase to see if it describes us…and to allow God to help us cultivate His love in our hearts.
“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].” I will leave this passage to speak into your heart as it has mine.
Many in the church seem content with a lifestyle far beneath that of a true disciple of Jesus according to the Scripture. We fit too comfortably into the world and easily conform to their ways rather than the ways of God. Living with a divided heart –half in this world and half in the Kingdom of God - does not work. Jesus said one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.
When we genuinely determine that the Kingdom of God is more important to us than anything in this world, and carry through on that determination, we will have begun to walk with God. As we walk with Him, He will change us more and more into His image and can use us more and more to build His Kingdom. Our part is learning to yield daily to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
When this life is over will it be said of us, “he/she walked with God and was perfect?”